By Joan Huyser-Honig and Deborah Sokolove

In this edited conversation, Deborah Sokolove talks about how God works through art and artmaking.

Q: Christian theologians sometimes define beauty as “a reflection of God’s glory.” You propose redefining beauty as “relational experience.” Why?

My definition is something more, not instead of. I agree with theologians that God is the source and measure of all beauty. But to define art only as a reflection of God’s glory is an abstraction, not terribly useful when talking about whether a given artwork is beautiful. Beauty isn’t a thing of its own. It’s not a lasting essential property of some objects and absent in others. I’m just as capable as anyone of saying, “Oh, that’s so beautiful!” It’s my emotional idiosyncratic reaction. We can respond to a given piece as if it reflects God’s beauty and glory, but we are incapable of knowing for sure.